Avalon Hill, 3M, Parker Brothers, Business European. Mystery Politics Space/Fantasy
FROM THE SUMMER 1999 GA REPORT
FROM "K-BAN'S KORNER":
UNION PACIFIC(Rio Grande Games; $39.95)
If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then Sid Sackson should have truly felt honored when Alan Moon combined the share, chain-building and majority holder's bonuses from Sid's Acquire (3M, 1962) with the unpredictability of the "profit card" mechanism that Sackson pioneered in Venture (3M, 1969) for his 1990 release, Airlines...
In 1999, Moon changedAirlines' theme to railroading while tweaking the rules enough for Union Pacific to stand on its own merits. Union Pacific's mapboard covers the continental United States, northern Mexico and southern Canada. The 10 companies each have a starting terminus with a locomotive of its own color (except the green El Paso & Rio Grande that starts with two trains). The cities are connected by track of four different varieties. There are 98 color-coded share cards representing the 10 rail lines...An 11th company, the Union Pacific, has 20 shares but uses neither tracks nor locomotives...
A player's turn consists of two options: building track or investing...strategic tension...exists in deciding whether to build or invest...You'd like to do both but Moon forces you to choose. Get greedy in acquiring additional stock and you kick yourself if a dividend card is turned over before you've had a chance to invest...Winning inUP is a juggling match - balancing your objectives against the declared investments of your opponents... UP shows off Alan Moon's ability to hone, polish and, more importantly, improve a previous design... - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Steve Kurzban
FROM "POINT OF VIEW":
Giganten... is all about exploration and drilling in 1920s Texas...The board is superbly rendered...The other bits, which include plastic derricks, locomotives and trucks are marvelous...
The derrick tiles are placed face down on the appropriately marked spaces on the board. There are three types of derrick tiles: single, double and triple...Each player starts with $15,000 and... derrick pieces of his chosen color, a matching truck and locomotive...A black locomotive is placed further up the track and acts as a timing mechanism. When the black locomotive gets to the end of the track, the game is over.
A turn begins with a die determining the upwards or downwards movement of prices at the refineries... A card is drawn from the red action deck. The card reveals how many spaces the black locomotive moves... Then, cards from the yellow action deck are placed alongside... Each card shows a certain number of licenses to be acquired and limited movement of trucks and trains. It may also allow "specials" like moving everyone else's locomotive back a few spaces or receiving an extra unit of oil or moving the price of oil up or down... The cards offer a wide range of options but are fairly balanced. After each player has chosen an action card, in turn order, all the players perform the first action on the card, then the next etc.... A player might move his truck to a space adjacent to a derrick tile and "explore" the tile to determine how many units of oil a derrick will produce at that location. When a player explores, he turns over the derrick tile and pays the bank the required amount, placing his derrick on the space along with the indicated number of oil units. When each player has moved, oil is transported, in turn order, back to the refineries. Now the fun really begins.
Using the license cards, each player may bid for the right to sell his oil from each refinery at the indicated price. Three refineries, three auctions... If you don't win an auction, you can't sell your oil... Besides moving trucks, movement points may be used to advance the locomotive. This is important for two reasons. First, if a player's locomotive is further back than his producing well, he must hire another player's locomotive (or the bank's black locomotive) to transport the oil back to the refinery! This costs a huge $3000 per unit of oil! So it is important to keep your locomotive steaming up the track. Second, at the end of the game, the further advanced your locomotive is, relative to every one else, the more your remaining derricks will be worth in the final tally.
While scope for strategy is somewhat limited, decisions are often very difficult and that is a typical sign of a good game. There is a bit too much luck for some purists in the placement of derrick tiles and in the acquisition of licenses but that affords weaker players a chance to excel. The game strikes a fairly decent balance between luck and skill...with epic themes and grand ambitions... - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Al Newman
TARGET (Enginuity, LLC; $9.95)Designing a card game for the American market is an exceedingly difficult assignment. ...the cry seems to be, "Give me something different but make it the same."...But Target...manages to do just that....
Target comes with two decks: 18 Target cards and 82 Playing cards. Target cards describe various melds and are worth 2 to 5 points. The Playing cards consist of four suits marked by color... and design...and each player is dealt a hand of five cards... Five Target cards are placed, face up, on the table...
Targets are similar to poker hands (straight, flush, three of a kind etc.) with some notable differences. (For example, a three card straight is possible.) A player making a meld takes the matching Target card... Play continues until the draw pile is exhausted... High total wins!
... Target is a skillful blend of gin rummy and poker enlivened by ever changing and variable goals...extremely easy to learn...Target hits the target - a bullseye! - - - - - - Herb Levy